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WHEAT RIDGE – The Colorado Chamber today held its fifth biennial congressional event, bringing together Colorado’s U.S. House delegation on one stage to discuss the critical issues facing the business community. U.S. Reps. Jason Crow, Ed Perlmutter, Joe Neguse, Doug Lamborn, and Ken Buck participated in the bipartisan panel, moderated by political reporter Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver.
This hybrid event was held in a live studio, with the congressional delegation participating in person and a fully virtual audience of Chamber members. The U.S. Representatives addressed pressing issues related to infrastructure, the delta variant of coronavirus, the evolving situation in Afghanistan, and more.
“This event is one of the few times that the members of Colorado’s House delegation join together on one stage to discuss the issues of importance to our business community,” said Colorado Chamber President and CEO Chuck Berry.
Boyd opened up the discussion with a question on Afghanistan, and the delegation had differing opinions on what led to the fallout and what should be done moving forward. Rep. Buck called the situation a “failure in leadership,” while Lamborn raised concerns about the country’s standing on the global stage. Democratic members of the delegation expressed urgency to get our citizens and partners to safety.
“Our adversaries, like China and Russia, are going to see this as an opportunity to test President Biden and the Administration,” said Rep. Lamborn. “Our allies around the world are going to question the staying power of America.”
“To see the images coming out of Afghanistan is just heartbreaking,” said Rep. Neguse. “From my perspective, the central goal right now has to be to do everything we can to bring our citizens, and ultimately all of our Afghan partners, back to the United States.”
“There’s going to be plenty of time to debate, there’s going to plenty of time to cast blame and to think about what went wrong – the missteps over the last 20 years, of which there were many and of which no party carries sole responsibility,” said Rep. Crow. “Four presidents, multiple parties, many Congresses have played a role in this. We will have that discussion, but the mission is not over. We have tens of thousands of Afghan partners, thousands of American citizens, sitting in Kabul right now that need to be evacuated. My message is very clear to the Administration: send the troops in that are necessary to secure that airport and hold it as long as we need to hold it until we get everyone out. Because the American handshake must matter.”
The federal infrastructure package that recently passed the U.S. Senate was also a heated topic of discussion as the House will be considering the proposal in the coming weeks. The issue was divided along party lines, with the two Republican members hesitant about the package while the three Democratic members were highly supportive.
“Businesspeople, more than anybody in the world, understand that you’ve got to pay your bills,” Rep. Buck said. “We can’t keep doing to our country what we’re doing. This is a moral issue for our children and our grandchildren. If we are serious about infrastructure, then let’s put spending caps in place, let’s put a sequester in place, let’s make sure that we are spending not just today to try to get a president reelected or members of Congress reelected. Let’s make sure that in 20 years, we have the resources that we can invest in our country. And we do that through responsible spending, not through this kind of bill.”
“There are pieces in there that I really believe are so important to Colorado in terms of fixing bridges, lots of road work, broadband, water systems,” said Rep. Perlmutter. “We’ve seen across the country and even in Colorado our water systems are aging, and we need to make sure these things are improved. And there are millions of jobs attached to this infrastructure package.”
Reps. Crow and Neguse praised the Biden Administration along with both Republican and Democratic Party leadership for coming together in a bipartisan manner on the infrastructure package.
A challenging issue for many Colorado Chamber members has been a shortage of labor, which many attribute to the additional $300 per week Unemployment Insurance benefits provided by federal stimulus. The congressional delegation agreed that the benefits would likely not be extended by the Biden Administration beyond September, however they disagreed on the overall effectiveness of the policy.
Colorado’s members of Congress also discussed critical business issues, like supply chain challenges facing many manufacturers, the federal PRO Act, taxes, and workforce development. The full program can be viewed by clicking here.
The Colorado Chamber of Commerce champions free enterprise, a healthy business environment and economic prosperity for all Coloradans. It is the only business association that works to improve the business climate for all sizes of business from a statewide, multi-industry perspective. What the Colorado Chamber accomplishes is good for all businesses, and that’s good for the state’s economy. It was created in 1965 based on the merger with the Colorado Manufacturers’ Association.